10/06/2002 11:00PM

Toccet adds to Juvenile's intrigue


ELMONT, N.Y. - There is mounting evidence that this year's 2-year-old crop - fillies as well as colts - has a higher than usual level of quality.

Toccet came into Saturday's $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park as a promising prospect at 9-1 eligible to a nonwinners-of-two-other-than. He came out of it as an impressive winner by 1 1/2 lengths after a strong move through the stretch that suggests he has a future.

In winning the 131st Champagne, Toccet beat a good colt. Icecoldbeeratreds won 3 of 4 starts, and was a solid, two-length winner of the Del Mar Futurity. He was flown across the country, and after racing on fast tracks, caught a sandy, tiring surface that was slower than usual because of recent showers. After contesting the pace from the outset, Icecoldbeeratreads did well to be second.

Toccet is an attractive and well-balanced bay colt by Awesome Again, owned and bred by Daniel Borislow of Palm Beach, Fla. He won his maiden at Laurel in mid-August with an eye-catching 10-length score and then ran back at Pimlico last month to win by more than eight lengths.

Borislow is deserving of a good one. A life-long racing fan, he became active in the sport a dozen years ago after a successful career in the telecommunications field. With John Scanlan as his trainer, he maintained a stable of more than 40 head, and has more than 40 broodmares in production. During the past year Borislow, 41, trimmed the the racing stable back to 17 head, but has a promising bunch of 29 homebred yearlings at Jimmy Crupi's farm in Ocala, Fla., where they are learning to be racehorses.

Scanlan, a 52-year-old Philadelphian, has always worked with horses. He started at a local riding academy, then shifted to Liberty Bell Park in 1969, serving as assistant to a number of horsemen, including Willard Thompson. He took out his trainer's license in 1973 and has developed a number of runners from his base at Laurel, Md., where he maintains an enviable strike rate. Last season he had 27 percent winners from 120 starters.

Scanlan confirms that Toccet will go on to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park and that Jorge Chavez will ride him again.

"I watched the races at Belmont all afternoon and saw that the rail was dead," Scanlan noted. "I told Jorge to stay off the rail but as it turned out there was no place else for him to go. So he finished on the rail and I was impressed. I didn't get what I wanted, but I got what I needed and now we're looking ahead."

Toccet's Champagne victory sets the stage for an intriguing confrontation at Arlington with Sky Mesa, the Hopeful winner who on Saturday added Keeneland's Breeders Futurity to his credits. Sky Mesa continues to impress and the Juvenile could be one of the best races on the Breeders' Cup's remarkable program.

The Juvenile Fillies also has considerable appeal in the wake of Saturday's convincing victory by Storm Flag Flying, owned by Ogden Mills Phipps, in the $500,000 Frizette. The undefeated filly, who routed her field in last month's Matron, appeared to have an easy time of it coming from just off the pace to capture the Frizette by two lengths as the 3-5 favorite.

"I thought the Frizette represented a definite improvement over her Matron," trainer Shug McGaughey said. "John Velazquez had to ride her a little in the Matron but he was always comfortable with her in the Frizette. There was also progress in her conduct before the race. We are going to the Breeders' Cup with confidence."